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The Fitzfaddles at Hull by Jonathan F. Kelley

 

“Well, well, drum no more about it, for mercy's sake; if you must go, you must go, that's all.”

“Yes, just like you, Fitzfaddle”—pettishly reiterates the lady of the middle-aged man of business; “mention any thing that would be gratifying to the children—”

“The children—umph!

“Yes, the children; only mention taking the dear, tied-up souls to, to—to the Springs—”

Haven't they been to Saratoga? Didn't I spend a month of my precious time and a thousand of my precious dollars there, four years ago, to be physicked, cheated, robbed, worried, starved, and—laughed at?” Fitzfaddle responds.

“Or, to the sea-side—” continued the lady.

“Sea-side! good conscience!” exclaims Fitzfaddle; “my dear Sook—”

“Don't call me Sook, Fitzfaddle; Sook! I'm not in the kitchen, nor of the kitchen, you'll please remember, Fitzfaddle!” said the lady, with evident feeling.

“O,” echoed Fitz, “God bless me, Mrs. Fitzfaddle, don't be so rabid; don't be foolish, in your old days; my dear, we've spent the happiest of our days in the kitchen; when we were first married, Susan, when our whole stock in trade consisted of five ricketty chairs—”

“Well, that's enough about it—” interposed the lady.

“A plain old pine breakfast table—” continued Fitz.

“I'd stop, just THERE—” scowlingly said Mrs. Fitz.

“My father's old chest, and your mother's old corner cupboard—” persevered the indefatigable monster.

“I'd go through the whole inventory—” angrily cried Mrs. Fitz—“clean down to—”

“The few broken pots, pans, and dishes we had—”

“Don't you—don't you feel ashamed of yourself?” exclaims Mrs. Fitz, about as full of anger as she could well contain; but Fitz keeps the even tenor of his way.

“Not at all, my dear; Heaven forbid that I should ever forget a jot of the real happiness of any portion of my life. When you and I, dear Sook (an awful scowl, and a sudden change of her position, on her costly rocking chair. Fitz looked askance at Mrs. Fitz, and proceeded); when you and I, Susan, lived in Dowdy's little eight by ten 'blue frame,' down in Pigginsborough; not a yard of carpet, or piece of mahogany, or silver, or silk, or satin, or flummery of any sort, the five old chairs—”

“Good conscience! are you going to have that over again?” cries Mrs. Fitz, with the utmost chagrin.

“The old white pine table—”

Mrs. Fitz starts in horror.

“My father's old chest, and your mother's old corner cupboard!”

Mrs. Fitz, in an agony, walks the floor!

“The few broken or cracked pots, pans and dishes, we had—”

Nature quite “gin eout”—the exhausted Mrs. Fitzfaddle throws herself down upon the sumptuous conversazione, and absorbs her grief in the ample folds of a lace-wrought handkerchief (bought at Warren's—cost the entire profits of ten quintals of Fitzfaddle &Co.'s A No. 1 cod!), while the imperturbable Fitz drives on—

“Your mother's old cooking stove, Susan—the time and again, Susan, I've sat in that little kitchen—”

Mrs. Fitzfaddle shudders all over. Each reminiscence, so dear to Fitzfaddle, seems a dagger to her.

“With little Nanny—”

“You—you brute! You—you vulgar—you—you Fitzfaddle. Nanny! to call your daughter N-Nanny!”

“Nanny! why, yes, Nanny—” says the matter-of-fact head of the firm of Fitzfaddle &Co. “I believe we did intend to call the girl Nancy; we did call her Nanny, Mrs. Fitzfaddle; but, like all the rest, by your innovations, things have kept changing no better fast. I believe my soul that girl has had five changes in her name before you concluded it was up to the highest point of modern respectability. From Nancy you had it Nannette, from Nannette to Ninna, from Ninna to Naomi, and finally it was rested at Anna Antoinette De Orville Fitzfaddle! Such a mess of nonsense to handle my plain name.”

“Anna Antoinette De Orville”—said Mrs. Fitz, suddenly rallying, “ is a name, only made plain by your ugly and countryfied prefix. De Orville is a name,” said the lady.

“I should like to know,” said the old gentleman, “upon what pretext, Mrs. Fitzfaddle, you lay claim to such a Frenchy and flighty name or title as De Orville?”

“Wasn't it my family name, you brute?” cried Mrs. Fitz.

“Ho! ho! ho! Sook, Sook, Sook,” says Fitzfaddle.

Sook!” almost screams Mrs. Fitz.

“Yes, Sook, Sook Scovill, daughter of a good old-fashioned, patriotic farmer—Timothy Scovill, of Tanner's Mills, in the county of Tuggs—down East. And when I married Sook (Mrs. Fitz jumped up, a rustling of silk is heard—a door slams, and the old gentleman finishes his domestic narrative, solus!), she was as fine a gal as the State ever produced. We were poor, and we knew it; wasn't discouraged or put out, on the account of our poverty. We started in the world square; happy as clams, nothing but what was useful around us; it is a happy reflection to look back upon those old chairs, pine table, my father's old chest, and Sook's mother's old corner cupboard—the cracked pots and pans—the old stove—Sook as ruddy and bright as a full-blown rose, as she bent over the hot stove in our parlor, dining room, and kitchen—turning her slap-jacks, frying, baking and boiling, and I often by her side, with our first child, Nanny, on my—”

“Well, I hope by this time you're over your vulgar Pigginsborough recollections, Fitzfaddle!” exclaims Mrs. Fitz, re-entering the parlor.

“I was just concluding, my dear, the happy time when I sat and read to you, or held Nanny, while you—”

“Fitzfaddle, for goodness' sake—”

“While you—ruddy and bright, my dear, as the full-blown rose, bent over your mother's old cook stove—”

“Are you crazy, Fitz, or do you want to craze me?” cried the really tried woman.

“Turning your slap-jacks,” continues Fitz, suiting the action to the word.

“Fitzfaddle!” cries Mrs. Fitz, in the most sublimated paroxysm of pity and indignation, but Fitz let it come.

While I dandled Nanny on my knee!

A pause ensues; Fitzfaddle, in contemplation of the past, and Mrs. Fitz fortifying herself for the opening of a campaign to come. At length, after a deal of “dicker,” Fitz remembering only the bad dinners, small rooms, large bills, sick, parboiled state of the children, clash and clamor of his trips to the Springs, sea-side and mountain resorts; and Mrs. Fitz dwelling over the strong opposition (show and extravagance) she had run against the many ambitious shop-keepers' wives, tradesmen's, lawyers' and doctors' daughters—Mrs. Fitz gained her point, and the family,—Mrs. Fitz, the two now marriageable daughters—Anna Antoinette De Orville, and Eugenia Heloise De Orville, and Alexander Montressor De Orville, and two servants—start in style, for the famed city of Hull!

It was yet early in the season, and Fitzfaddle had secured, upon accommodating terms, rooms &c., of Mrs. Fitzfaddle's own choosing. With the diplomacy of five prime ministers, and with all the pride, pomp and circumstance of a fine-looking woman of two-and-forty,—husband rich, and indulgent at that; armed with two “marriageable daughters,” you may—if at all familiar with life at a “watering-place,” fancy Mrs. Fitzfaddle's feelings, and perhaps, also, about a third of the swarth she cut. The first evident opposition Mrs. Fitz encountered, was from the wife of a wine merchant. This lady made her entree at ——House, with a pair of bays and “body servant,” two poodles, and an immensity of band boxes, patent leather trunks, and—her husband. The first day Mrs. Oldport sat at table, her new style of dress, and her European jewels, were the afternoon talk; but at tea, the Fitzfaddles spread, and Mrs. Oldport was bedimmed, easy; the next day, however, “turned up” an artist's wife and daughter, whose unique elegance of dress and proficiency in music took down the entire collection! Mrs. Michael Angelo Smythe and daughter captivated two of Mrs. Fitzfaddle's “circle”—a young naval gent and a 'quasi Southern planter, much to her chagrin and Fitzfaddle's pecuniary suffering; for next evening Mrs. F. got up,—to get back her two recruits—a grand private hop, at a cost of $130! And the close of the week brought such a cloud of beauty, jewels, marriageable daughters and ambitious mothers, wives, &c., that Mrs. Fitzfaddle got into such a worry with her diplomatic arrangements, her competitions, stratagems,—her fuss, her jewels, silks, satins and feathers, that a nervous-headache preceded a typhus fever, and the unfortunate lady was forced to retire from the field of her glory at the end of the third week, entirely prostrated; and poor Jonas Fitzfaddle out of pocket—more or less—five hundred dollars! The last we heard of Fitzfaddle, he was apostrophizing the good old times when he rejoiced in five old chairs—cook stove—slap-jacks, &c.!

 
 
 

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